Vogue Italia Takes on Domestic Violence in Gory Editorial

The latest provocative spread from Franca Sozzani is a lot bloodier than usual.
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Alyssa Vingan Klein
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The latest provocative spread from Franca Sozzani is a lot bloodier than usual.
Photo: Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia

Photo: Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia

Of all of the international Vogue editors-in-chief, Franca Sozzani of Vogue Italia stirs up the most controversy. A true pioneer, she is never afraid to shy away from hushed industry issues: She published a wildly popular issue of Vogue Italia featuring only black models in 2008, and she put plus-size models in lingerie on the cover in 2011.

That said, the rebellious editrix always seems to always be explaining herself, from the post-BP oil spill editorial (featuring model Kristen McMenamy drenched in oil) in 2010, to the feature on "slave earrings" in 2011, to the racially insensitive "Haute Mess" editorial from 2012. Now, in the April 2014 issue, she is tackling one of the heaviest issues yet: domestic violence against women.

In a cover story shot by Steven Meisel called "Horror Story," models are depicted running from men wielding knives, scissors and other weapons in dangerous (and, in some cases, deadly) situations. The looks, provided by the likes of Balenciaga, Miu Miu, Fendi and Marc Jacobs, are covered in blood. It's a nightmare scenario akin to "The Shining" or "American Psycho," albeit much better dressed.

In an interview with Alexander Fury for The Independent, Sozzani explains her thinking behind the shoot -- inspired by the still-rising rates of domestic violence in Italy and beyond -- which undoubtedly will elicit an emotional response from many readers. "The horror of life is bigger than the one that you can see in the movies," she explained. "This is really a horror show, what we are looking at and what we see every day in every newspaper around the world is how fragile the woman still is today, and how she can be attacked, can be abused, can be killed.”

Of course, in publishing the editorial, Sozzani risks criticism that she is glamorizing domestic violence and playing down the real issue. But in her mind, it is a risk worth taking in order to draw attention to the topic. “We sell the dream because we are a magazine... But at the same time, we can give people the opportunity to have a voice, for awareness. It's not about provocation, at all," Sozzani said.

The editor is known for tackling hot-button issues through photography instead of through writing or long features, and while readers could just count this as another provocative attempt by Sozzani to raise public awareness, it is a little grislier than the editor's previous editorials. But we can't help but wonder: Is the most effective way to tackle the issue of domestic violence through a fashion spread?

Considering how much discussion the shoot has earned in the days before hitting newsstands, the answer may be "yes." Tell us: Do you think the Vogue Italia story is in poor taste?

Photo: Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia

Photo: Steven Meisel for Vogue Italia